Line drawing

Line drawing
Drawn by the talented Luke Braddock

Monday, 10 September 2012

2012-2013 Welcome!

Greetings, SUWO! *blows dust off Resident Blogger chair and takes a seat*

Welcome to 2012-2013! Gillian here, and I will be resuming my post as the faithful maintainer of the SUWO blog this year. To all new potential SUWO members who have not met me yet, I have been in SUWO since 2008 and am one of the PR Representatives. You'll recognise me by my Australian accent, the never-ending stream of missed notes and facepalms made by me in the Horn section, and, if you still don't know me by the next European tour, the wave of jeers and faux-sympathetic pats bestowed upon me while waiting at UK passport control.

The purpose of this post is to welcome everybody who is keen to audition for SUWO. I thought I would take a moment before the auditions to say a bit about us; who are we, what we do during the year, how serious we are as an orchestra, and what is the record for number of audible groans by a frustrated member during a rehearsal.

As you have hopefully read on our Union and Facebook page, SUWO is a wind orchestra comprised of both Music and non-Music students, past and present, throughout the university. Lead by our fearless leader, Sir Anthony Houghton esq., we are about to commence our 12th year of operation, and are as ever excited by what this new year has to offer. While Tony takes care of the conducting side of things, the student committee, hand-picked yearly by SUWO members, takes care of everything else. Think of the committee as the SUWO version of the government, except our committee actually does stuff every now and then. This year's committee stars:

Martin Bullock as President - having been in SUWO nearly as long as me, Martin has also recently pre-ordered the next issue of Zimmerframes Yearly. You'll generally find him among the percussion, but he occasionally rendezvous with the trombones too. When he's not busy being in just about every music group that will take him, he studies Maths and is in his Masters year.

Ben Latham as Secretary - Ben is another old-timer, also about to start his fourth year with us. He sits among the most expert of the clarinets, and is about to undergo the voluntary migraine that surely is the final year of a Law degree.

Charlotte Blackburn as Treasurer - after a most successful run as co-Social Secretary, Charlotte has decided to stretch her wings, make some use of the Economics degree she is about to undergo the final year of, and become our Treasurer. She's arguably the sexiest Tuba player you'll ever meet.

James Rhodes as Inclusions Officer - James' main role is to make people feel happy, welcome and loved in the SUWO-sphere. As one of the most lovable people in the world, this is obviously going to be a challenge of mammoth proportions for him. James is a 3rd year Music student and sits with the flautists. He doesn't actually play the flute, though. He just sits with them. He's so lovable we allow him to do this.

Tim Walker as 1/2 of Social Secretary - until 2011 there were few who could match me in the role of SUWO's token loud person. Then Tim came along and gave me the opportunity to semi-retire. Despite not having an obnoxious foreign accent, Tim shall be more than recognisable to all new SUWO members as that chap among the trumpets who says lots. He plays the trumpet pretty well too. I figure they wouldn't let him be a second year Music student if he didn't.

Natalie Farrow as 1/2 of Social Secretary - as a Saxophonist, Natalie is already in an ideal position to be a Social Secretary. Sitting right in the middle of the orchestra provides ample opportunity to talk to be social with players of all sorts of instruments, after all. Natalie  currently whistles the often-deprived middle child that is the Tenor Sax, but may soon be changing it up, as Saxophonists often do.

Alexandra Lee as 1/2 of PR - with most of SUWO being scared half to death after myself and Poppy (the other PR rep from last year) talked about the work involved with the position, Alex was the only person brave enough to volunteer for the role. Her bravery is further noticeable by her joining the veritable cat-cage that is the clarinet section.

Gillian Brown as 1/2 of PR - I've talked about myself plenty.

George Morton as Co-Conductor - This is George's fifth year with SUWO, making him as old, in SUWO years, as me. He spent three years partaking in Trumpet duties before picking up the conductor's baton last year. When not flailing a stick at us, he is writing music and continuing to blow his trumpet (pun!) for his Masters course. He's instantly recognisable by having ginger hair of a calibre that would make Percy Grainger envious.

(Dr) Gareth Widdowson as Co-Conductor/Marketing Material Designer - Having been with SUWO since 2003, Gareth is practically part of the furniture at this stage. But don't read that as an insult. He's like that faithful Chesterfield lounge that has been passed down for generations. As he has just finished his PhD I do not know how involved he will be with us this year. He has however promised to make it all the more unbelievable that he's colourblind and continue to make amazing posters and flyers for us for our concerts.

So that's us. I promise above all that each of us are friendly and approachable, so do not hesitate to ask us about anything you are unsure of. We'll be dotted around the place during auditions, taking your names and trying to calm you down (we all had to audition - we know it's scary).

During the year SUWO has a couple of primary commitments. Every semester we do a concert in Firth Hall, which will be easy to find by that stage because it is where our rehearsals are every week. Most of what we play for these concerts is a combination of fun show tunes, soulful ballads, and one or two truly horrendous pieces from Tony's Secret File of Awful Music. Towards the end of the year we do a couple of concerts in Weston Park, where we achieve the incredible feat of fitting most of us into a bandstand better suited for a small chorus or a string quintet. We normally play our catchier tunes for that one. But of course, our most important yearly commitment by far is our European Tour. Taken every year during the Easter holidays or during the first week of summer, this is when we throw our instruments into a coach, tetris-fit ourselves into the rest of the coach and journey to somewhere in Europe, where we explore, play concerts in some incredible locations, and have what is guaranteed to be one of the funnest weeks of the year. Previous tours have seen us go to Malta, Barcelona, Germany, Belgium and Holland. Where to this year, I wonder? We will have to see.

As for how serious we are as an orchestra… well, I do not think there is a member among us who does not take music seriously. Most of us play to an 8th Grade standard and we take genuine pride in our ability to pull pieces together and create something beautiful for our audiences. But SUWO is not a serious group at all. We are serious about playing good music, but to us the more crucial element is that we get together, play as well as we can, and have a great time doing it. So if you wish to join a group of talented musicians (and me :P) who are in it for the experience of being in an orchestra but do not take themselves too seriously, we are definitely the orchestra for you.

I shall now respectfully sign out before this blog post reaches novel-length proportions. But before I go, I would like to again welcome you to SUWO, and I and everybody else sincerely hope to see you at the Fresher's Fair and at auditions. Until then, peace out!

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